News / Asia

Karaoke and Counseling: Japan’s Tsunami Survivors Try to Rebuild

Henry Ridgwell

It has been nearly a year since the huge tsunami hit northern Japan, killing tens of thousands of people and destroying entire settlements.  Many survivors are struggling through the winter in shelters or temporary housing.  In the town of Ofunato reconstruction efforts well underway.  But there is wide uncertainty among the survivors about the future of their hometowns

Karaoke is helping to heal the wounds of last year’s tsunami.  Traditional folk songs are favorite among the residents of Ofunato’s temporary housing, like Kazue Hashiguchi.

She says it is good fun and heals the heart.  She says gathering together in a group and singing and talking to each other is great.

This musical get-together is taking place on board a purpose-built truck currently touring Japan’s tsunami-hit coast, bringing counseling and karaoke to the bereaved communities.

Yoshinobu Konno is from the charity ‘Friends of the United Nations,’ which came up with the idea.

He says people who live in these small prefabricated houses lost their families and their homes and are often depressed.  He says they are often alone, they do not want to make contact with other people, they become introspective.  He says his group is concerned that people could die here alone in their houses.  He says his charity is intervening to try to prevent mental illnesses from taking hold.

Dozens of housing blocks have been erected in Japan in the months following the tsunami.  Visiting salesmen bring life’s essentials - and even the odd luxury like locally caught cod roe.

In a small cove below Ofunato, there is nothing left of the residents’ original homes.  Demolition teams have flattened the few structures that the tsunami left behind.

Ofunato was one of the worst hit towns when the tsunami roared ashore nearly a year ago.

Further south, a freighter still looms over Kesennuma town, carried several kilometers inland by the tsunami.

It is impossible to forget the horrors of a year ago, but the town is trying to move on.

A mini-village has sprung up to re-house businesses washed away.  Chefs and shopkeepers offer a taste of Kesennuma’s once-famed seafood.

Among them, Masayoshi Hatakeyama.  His traditional Japanese inn was entirely destroyed.  His new workplace may be cramped, but he says it is a first step on a very long road.

He says the tsunami destroyed a huge area so it will take a long time and hard work to get back to how it was before.  He says it will not be like it was before - they will have to create a new town.

Under the direction of a newly-formed Ministry of Reconstruction, this wrecked coastline is being transformed with astonishing speed.

Back in Ofunato, survivors say it will take much longer to rebuild their communities; many question whether anyone will want to live here at all.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid